n my 20s I probably moved 20 times. There were university apartments, a New York City sublet and a Spanish style duplex in West Hollywood. I was a spot-to-spot gypsy who shifted at the mere mention of a better perch. I was so adept at changing locations I became an expert. When my girlfriends in Los Angeles needed movers they called me. I even did heavy lifting.
When I moved to Rome 10 years ago, I brought two suitcases to my Piazza Navona apartment. I was still a rambling rose. I didn’t need much.
When my husband and I bought our Rome home eight years ago it was empty. But furniture wouldn’t fit inside Samsonite luggage, at least not couches and cribs, eating tables and changing tables, the necessary accoutrements of baby needs. The reality of the life change made me feel anxious. Suddenly I couldn’t just hail a taxi, grab a bag and leave. My rambling rose days were over. I had too much stuff. Moving would be a chore.
In the words of George Carlin, “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it,” and our house was no different — at least not at first.
But after a while that house became our home. The stuff became ours and I grew used to staying put. I found comfort in familiarity and I adored my neighbors. Especially the older couple upstairs my kids came to call Nonna Tania and Nonno Mario.
These two people were far more than stuff. They were my kid’s adopted grandparents in every sense of the word. They adored my children and supported my husband and I like parents. They cooked for us when we were sick, babysat when we were in a bind, laughed with us when we were happy and cried with us when we weren’t. They were family.
So when the possibility of moving came up this time last year, I balked. The girl who would move in a heartbeat felt her heart break at the thought of leaving this home and those people.
When I started looking for new digs I couldn’t even tell Tania and Mario. Not because I wanted to hide it from them, but because I couldn’t hold it together long enough to get the words out.
When we actually found a house, I never fully celebrated. Not because I didn’t love the place and the key location next to my kid’s school but again because of Tania and Mario. It was all so bittersweet.
We packed and moved in mid-August, at the height of Italian vacation time. We did so knowing that Tania and Mario would be away. I felt like the Baltimore Colts, sneaking out of town in the middle of the night. But it was better that way. Easier.
Last week, we moved to our new place, and we left a lot of stuff behind — couches, end tables, chairs and the like. I couldn’t care less.
But the other “stuff,” Nonna Tania and Nonna Mario, we could never leave behind. Because I couldn’t care more.